From mating to laying: genetic and environmental variation in mating dates and prelaying periods of female pied flycatchers Ficedula hypoleuca

Pied Flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca) Science Article 2


The duration of the period comprised between mating and the onset of laying and its correlates and consequences for aspects of female breeding performance are investigated in a population of pied flycatchers studied for 5 years. That duration may represent a compromise between the selective pressure on females to breed as early as possible and the need for females attempting to breed to be in prime nutritional condition. It is shown that the duration of the prelaying period is shorter for late breeders, but is apparently unrelated to subsequent condition of the female and indices of breeding performance. A low, significant between-year repeatability (R = 0.16) in the duration of female prelaying period was detected. However, there was a large component of environmental, as opossed to genetic, variation which may reflect stochasticity affecting timing of breeding and age factors. Overall, the evidence supports models of strategic adjustment of breeding date to offspring prospects, rather than those based on condition-constrained breeding date.

Potti, J. 1999, Ann. Zool. Fennici 36: 187-194

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